Loose Lips

Fire Chief Dodges Reporter

Fire chief Kenneth Ellerbe should take a lesson from Councilmember Vincent Orange: running from reporters doesn't make for flattering video. Fox 5 has the latest in the embattled chief's dodges from the press, with Ellerbe avoiding questions from reporter Paul Wagner for half a block on U Street.

In the clip, Wagner asks Ellerbe when he'll talk to the public about the sorry state of the city's ambulance fleet, but Ellerbe's not swayed. "I hear you talking to me, Paul Wagner," Ellerbe says. "I don't hear the public talking."

Fire department spokesman Tim Wilson tells LL that the chief isn't opposed to talking to reporters, but is usually too busy. In fact, Wilson says, he just talked to NBC 4's Mark Segraves at the Palisades Parade.

LL's theory: Ellerbe just isn't that great at interviews. His answer for Wagner on why he couldn't talk about the ambulances—"I just got back from vacation"—isn't exactly the stuff of media-relations legend.

  • S.E.

    Ambulances with broken AC systems during the summer is nothing new here…..it’s been going on for at least the past 30 years.

    I seem to recall Rubin refusing to speak to reporters several times. Especially when confronted about the worker exchange program involving Ellerbe and the state of Florida.

  • IAmNotALiberalDemocrat

    Mayor Gray need to fire Fire Chief Kenneth Ellerbe and DCRA Director Nicholas Majett. DCRA are the Fire Department are 2 of the worse managed agencies in the District of Columbia.

  • IAmNotALiberalDemocrat


    DCRA and the Fire Department are 2 of the worse managed D.C. agencies.

  • SEis4ME

    Count me as one of those citizens who doesn't care much (AT ALL) about ambush reporting. It reminds of watching Bill O'Reilly.

    I didn't bother to watch the video but a public official deciding to ignore a reporter isn't something that strikes me as an issue. Many things are...ignoring reporters ain't one.

  • SkinsFan#43

    So different from how well Cathy Lanier represents the Police Dept....

    Ellerbe's days are numbered (or should be).

  • noodlez



  • Big Daddy2

    Amen Liberal. DCRA especially under Majett is abysmal. If you got an abandoned building just lie that you are living in it with water hooked up and a trickle running in the faucet and they will agree you must be living in it.

  • IAmNotALiberalDemocrat

    noodlez, I enjoy reading your comments because you always bring humor with your comments. You make a good point about the Paparazzi.

    BigDaddy2, DCRA was deplorable under Fenty, Williams, and Barry. During Fenty's administration, Majett was the Deputy Director and he was non responsive then. I don't know why in the hell Vincent Gray made him Director of DCRA. You send DCRA emails on community concerns and you get no answer or some BS answer. I would like to see the City Paper and local news media investigative reporting on DCRA, it's inspectors, and it's top managerial team.

  • IAmNotALiberalDemocrat

    BigDaddy2, Grade D.C. is a joke. How on earth did DCRA get an A grade for the month of June? LOL I gave them a Grade of an F last night on this site.


  • justsayin

    DCRA is dysfunctional and non-responsive.

  • dcgovcorruption

    The office of Tax and Revenue has imposed a new policy to prevent
    you from walking in and obtaining a clean hands stamp,
    which is required before going to dcra to get a business
    license. I was informed that you now must go
    online to request this approval stamp and you may
    get it in the mail in 7 to 14 business days, in dc gov this means
    30 days. Another customer friendly service out the door.
    Nat Ghandi needs to go now.

  • mizwillis

    Don't know about Majett and the inspectors, but I witnessed and overheard a conversation between a DCRA staff member and a contractor in the hall discussing money. It was a few years ago, but what stuck in my mind most was the threat the woman made to me if I didn't "Move da F on."

  • IAmNotALiberalDemocrat

    Wow@mizwillis; faints at my computer. LOL

    There's so much coruption going on in the D.C. Government and alleged corruption at the D.C. Superior Court. Whom can we trust these days?

  • BMF

    This man is completely unqualified to be the Chief of a large city FD. Cronysim at it's finest.

    The "ambulance" side of the DCFD is poorly run because the employees have no oversight or supervision. When they make mistakes they are protected by the union. There is no excuse for the response times to life threatening emergencies. There's no excuse for failing to transport a patient who is having a life threatening emergency. These employees spend more time trying to dodge 911 calls, then when the get on scene spend even more time trying to convince the patient (or the patient's family) that they don't need to go to the ER by ambulance.

    How is it that the DCFD cannot keep track of the units in their fleet? It's pretty simple math: they should have 1 "front line" apparatus (engine, ladder, ambulance) for each station one is assigned (not all stations have all types of apparatus...plus there should be a number of "reserve" (or spare) apparatus. Do the math! How hard can it be??

    Another example of the broken system known as the DC government. Sad.

  • NewsIsNews

    What is this really about? It is election time coming up....three or four council people want to be mayor. Whether it is the ambulance service, metro escalators, metro rail or buses -- it takes time to order new trucks, cars, escalators or buses (whatever thing that needs replacing). The District has always been a slow procurement process.

    The way the story was put I thought there were no ambulances available at the Nationals Park. So what the city hired some private emergency services until the new trucks and newly trained EMT are hired. I am glad the private service was available! What if someone had a heat stroke or other emergency BUT NO ONE DID.

    Please some one snap your fingers and new trucks will appear!

  • S.E.

    What it's really about is that in the past, if the Local couldn't/didn't get what they wanted, they could make a call up on the hill to Hoyer, Davis etc.....

    Now, the only calls they can make are to channels 4,5,7,8 &9.

  • seDCdude

    BMF you don't have a FUKn clue!!

    It's the same, divisive union head Ed Smith and his croneez you speak of that is and has been sabotaging this dept. since Chief Ellerbe transfered his remedial azz and suggested a change in shifts/work schedules in order to save the DC tax payers $$$$$, something he accomplished in FLORIXDA to the tune of only about $28mill!!

    The same Union you say that protects LOADS for lack of a better word and all that nonsense you listed as reasons; WHICH HAVE ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH THE CHIEF in regards individual and/or collective trash who choose to BITCH as opposed to do what they are paid to do, pick a side....you can't have it both ways BMF!

  • Corky

    I wouldn't speak to that ridiculously biased union hack of a reporter either. Chief Ellerbe gives interviews to other reporters, but he knows that Wagner is nothing but a tool for the firefighter's union. He won't accurately report that the firefighter's union deliberately stages sickouts to make it look like FEMS is understaffed. Not to mention that this tactic endangers the lives and safety of the residents of the District. Until Paul Wagner learns how to report a story, I don't blame the chief.